Surviving Divorce - A Male Perspective
Getting divorced sucks. Being divorced is great.
I heard these words from a previous neighbor when he reached out to me after hearing I was about to start the process of divorce. That was a few years ago. Since then, I've drank roughly 30 gallons of liquor in an attempt to numb the agony of feeling like a complete failure. If that money were spent on gas, I could have driven across the United States - three times. I've lost the large majority of my previous social supports, and forged new ones. I've invested in self reflection through therapy (individual and group) that has shaped my understanding of who I am, with the harsh realities of my blind spots gracefully delivered like a brick to the neck.
I write this now because I want to provide hope to someone whose life is about to get thrown into the blender. Amy Pohler in her book Yes Please makes this metaphor about divorce:
Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air. The process of divorce is about loading that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands.
Divorced men drink and smoke more often; they engage in riskier sex, and are more likely to avoid doctor visits and die of preventable diseases. Ten divorced men die by suicide each day - a rate three times higher than divorced women.
My divorce, the events surrounding it, and my recognition of the need for more dialog on men's mental health and suicide are what caused me to create Visible Man. In a 2002 analysis of 40 publications, only 32 percent of people who died made contact in the year before death - meaning that the majority of individuals who chose to end their life were not in the care of a mental health provider. This gap represents an opportunity to reach men where they're at - bars, barber shops, coffee shops, firearms stores, big box home repair stores, fantasy football drafts - to cultivate the dialog around mental health. And I'll fully admit that it's extremely difficult to ask for help. Which is why Visible Man encourages the vulnerability is the ultimate strength.
The first place Visible Man is meeting men where they're at is where they go to get divorced, which is why we reached out to The Mediation Center to discuss how we can reach men before they hit crisis. Follow me over there to a blog where I discuss the process of getting divorced to being divorced.